So now I'm mid-way through my vacations and today my friends will arrive in Mumbai.
Having successfully made it to Mumbai, I had to go down to Thiruvananthapuram, my hometown, to recieve my 4 American friends who wanted to spend the Chinese New year in India.
I guess it was a good idea to come to India because China is freezing now. It's been snowing for over three weeks in Yichang where the normal snow is two days per winter. I heard that the water in the pipes has frozen over and even the electricity has been affected.
My friends did have some trouble getting the Indian visa... hmm... a lot of trouble actually, but thankfully they made it. I did have to get some sightseeing plan in order, and with all the tips coming in from various quarters, it wasn't much of a problem. After a short day in Thiruvananthapuram, we went to Kollam to catch the 8 hour "backwater boat ride" to Allapuzha. After spending the night in Vandiperiyar, day 3 was spent in Thekkady, the wildlife sanctuary. Unfortunately it turned out that there was no elephant ride through the jungle so we just decided to do the elephant ride through a 'spice plantation' which looked like someones backyard. Day 4 [and 5 thanks to Shibu the caretaker] was spent in Ernakulam. Fortunately all the foreign friends seemed to enjoy the South Indian cuisine so there wasn't any problem getting our bellies full. Ernakulam seemed a lot more congested than when I was there but the Auto-rickshaw drivers were still the same... they still don't use the meters. After 2 days in Ernakulam we took a train to Bangalore.
In Bangalore I went with my cousin, Dilip, and my friends had friends of their own there. I finally got to see my cousin sister Brindha akka. Last time I had seen her she was still just a college student. Now she is married and the mother of two! I had a good time there. Bangalore seemed different too. Dilip tells me it has the largest two-wheeler population in Asia. Just one look and you could tell for yourself! But I didn't have much time there and my Bangalore stay was over between Lalbaag, a shopping trip and 2 visits to my cousin's.
I took a bus back to Mumbai as all the trains were booked. Not only was the bus very slow, but by the time we reached Pune they informed us that the bus was not doing so good and couldn't continue the journey. I finally reached Mumbai in a Sumo with 8 others... the bus people paid for it of course, and I got one of the more comfortable seats so it was okay.
I got back last Friday and on Saturday I went on a 2 day family trip to the Sardar sarovar dam in Vadodara. We were basically guests of the builders of the dam so we travelled in a private plane and had people waiting on us all the time. We got back on Sunday and since then I've been lazying around, waiting for my friends to get here.